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Tag: tarot

Past, Present, Future of Rai.

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Arguably, the most prolific time I had as a songwriter was in 2008 when I moved to Aberdeen, Scotland. I’d gone there to escape from Los Angeles, I’d gone there to discover myself, I’d gone there to work on a vocal/techno project. That project became a battle of the wits, split by creative differences and divergent temperaments. The experience threw me back inside myself. Desperately needing an outlet for my emotions, my Scottish born musical partner made a handful of phone calls to find me a borrowed, broken guitar. It was on that guitar, and in those moments after techno, and wandering the streets of Aberdeen, that I wrote most of the songs that appear on youtube.

 

I often wonder if it was the energy in Aberdeen or the combination of circumstances that led to such a creative outburst. Nevertheless, none of the songs were ever recorded in any other way. I can remember how to play only a few.

As far back as 2004 I was at odds with the songwriter in me, convincing myself that I wasn’t talented, torturing myself through every spell of writer’s block and then, like the clouds parting, every few years would bring a prolific fit of writing after which I’d be standing at the crossroads wondering why I did it, if it was any good, and if it meant I was truly meant to pursue a career in music.

There’s not many who understand the violence of creation – the overflowing love felt while writing and sharing, followed by the dark, deep depletion after the process is through.  The curious part, and most perplexing, is that only in acoustic songwriting did the violence turn to self-destruction.

 

I would argue that I pour just as much of my soul into my long-hand writing, but never have I ventured to masochism after posting a short story, poem, or blog post.

It’s said, music is the soul of the divine. The expression of which taps into god energy, is akin to a religious experience. Acoustic songwriting brought me to that cathartic state, taught me how to get closer to my emotions, to be more comfortable expressing my truths – truths that I continue to explore.

Songwriting seems, for me, to have been a means to an end, and end which I’ve journeyed to fill with spirituality and mysticism in all its forms- the bottom of a purpose I may never find, if not to have found the digging was all I was ever meant to do.

Picking up my guitar and playing for myself or for others still carries that purifying sensation, a highly medicated healing energy even when the song is sad. That’s the part about it I love. The part I hate is that it’s also a quick way to self-loathing and destructive behavior.

Songwriting provokes the dark sides of my nature. Trying to live in the light while giving breathe to darkness is uncomfortable, to say the least.

Maybe it’s that I’ve never reached a place where the songs stopped helping me. Maybe I’m still a novice in the world of helper and healer and need much, much more personal work before I can use these tools to help other people. Maybe I’ve never been great at nurturing the extroverted version of myself. Whatever the case, I’ll listen to the lot of you who care tell me that I shouldn’t stop, that my songs mean much to you.

I guess what I’d say to you is, I’m looking for ways to help and heal that don’t take so much out of me.

All I ever wanted was to understand the inner workings of the world enough to make some sense of the human ecology. With that knowledge, I endeavor to help, heal, and spread love.

So, what do I wish the reader to understand from this post? Allow me to shuffle the cards…

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Three cards: past, present, future.

The Moon can represent a lot of things but here it’s strongly showing the past. The uncertainty of the past is leaving. In the present, the Three of Wands, of which also represents the past, present, and future symbolized by the fact that there are 3 wands. The progression of the vine on the wands helps show this. The figures’ hand is on the newest staff- the future- and he’s got a firm grip on it, a clear sight of what he wants. Those ships in the distance? That’s the goal, and to get there he will use the wisdom embedded in these three staffs, these experiences. The figure isn’t merely waiting, he’s been preparing for this.

In the future comes the careful, meticulous, firm, earthly, dependable, Knight of Coins – one of my favorite Knights because while he may be slow, he’s practical and what he brings is usually something lasting. Like a matured idea, a new business adventure, a turn in career maybe, even someone trustworthy who will help on the journey. Could even mean a venture back to school to further studies in a certain area… whatever the case, the Knight of Coins brings a good, useful, well earned opportunity.

So to the future, I’ve got ideas in my head. Debating if I’m ready to start doing tarot readings or something. There’s a healer in my heart. I’m working on letting her speak.

Talk soon.

 

 

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Detroit Cycling

 

Music selection this week is Basenji “Don’t Let Go” because I reviewed it at Indie Shuffle recently and it’s still stuck in my head. Also, in reference to the song title, I’ve been thinking about how stubbornly we hold to things that are no good for us. Holding on can be a pretty romantic idea, or a masochistic one. There’s a duality to everything.

Doing things a little different for this post because I don’t feel like rambling. My head never stops rambling and lately it hasn’t gotten to the point. Instead, here is a simple anecdote that hopefully can say more in the spaces between than I can with my words. It’s called:

Detroit Cycling

be well. love often. enjoy.

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With my visor down, I am invincible. Cars can’t touch me, prying eyes can’t touch me. Not the wind nor the rain, neither the light or the darkness can touch me when the visor on my Basecamp cycling helmet is down. Don’t I look like I can’t be fucked with? That’s because I can’t.

Two beers deep. Always two. That’s the magic number. Two sits with me right. Two of coins. Two of cups. Two of swords. Two of wands. Just the two of us. I like twos. Life is easier in twos. Threes fuck everything up. With three, doubts arise. Confucius says, “When three people journey together, their number decreases by one. When on man journeys alone, he finds a companion.”

What Confucius doesn’t say is that sometimes that happens all backwards – one man journeys alone, finds a companion, and that companion adds a third into the equation – then there was three and life became fucked.

I’m only swearing because I have the visor down. It makes me mean, a good kind of mean. The kind that can go super fast even if the relative speed isn’t all that fast according to a stop watch. My burning thighs say I am fast. Also, the ticking of my heart.

Tick, tock. Tick, tock. It’s pumping strong and hard and I’m flying around curves. Adrenaline quiets the madness. His touch also quiets the madness. His touch is like words upon my pen, dripping from a tip that presses upon a page that receives their touch, wears their meaning, becomes the word – touch. Touch me.

His touch is therapy. His love is maddening and his touch is therapy.

There’s a kink in my back. No matter which way I squirm, it’s still there. I’m riding harder and faster because adrenaline will make that go away, too. All forms of pain washed away with stimulation. Speed is so addicting. Sometimes I wish I were the wind. My Mayan chart says once I hit 40 I’ll turn into wind, incarnate. People will know my words far and wide.

For now, the wind has stopped whistling past my ears tucked neatly under my helmet, which means I have stopped. With stopping, feeling returns.

There’s a duality to everything- stopping and going, staying or leaving – a two-fold choice to most things. Tonight I will choose between succumbing to my fears or rising above them, as is the choice every night.

I will choose between doing the writing or thinking of writing, as is also the choice every night.

Love is also a choice, a brave and complex choice that comes with its own string of dualities. Much like cycling, Detroit cycling, joy and pain come with the package. The choice lies in whether or not we keep going, keep pushing towards a positive goal. Progress isn’t always so obvious, you know?

Some days are triumphant, some days it’s enough to just show up, and some days you get rained on.

 

 

 

Routine Maintenance

I’ve been doing this routine where I bike an hour to yoga, practice yoga for an hour, then bike back an hour from yoga. It’s a routine that takes me out of my head, forces me to pay attention as I’m dodging cars and pot holes; forces me to focus on something other than my immediate emotions as I’m stretching this way and that, challenging muscle groups to open and strengthen. Every drop of sweat padding on my rubber mat is a reward – a reminder of the solid foundation that is built upon routines.

I’ve been thinking a lot about routines.

I’ve other routines:

  • Make the bed every morning
  • Wash the sheets on Sunday
  • Clean and organize room before bed and/or before leaving the house
  • Clean dishes immediately after use
  • Get up at 6am every day and write an hour before work…..

Ok, I lied about that last one. However, in front of me is a list. Number 3 on that list is, “come up with a writing routine.” I suppose “up at 6am sharp” might be a good start.

Seems I need routines to normalize parts of my life as we all do, I’m sure. And normally those routines work to get gears turning, forcing us out of stupid habits like NOT performing those routines. We set those routines up for a reason. They need to be there because they work like oil to keep the machine turning.

But today was different. As I biked back from yoga I became frustrated that not once, not in the slightest had I exited my head during the whole 3 hours of the work out. This became most apparent mid yoga session. As my frustration grew to intolerable levels, I found myself holding my breath, resenting my instructor, doubting, cursing, just thinking negatively in all ways possible – totally contradictory to my usual heart-opening, clear-minded post yoga attitude.

Furrowed brow, I road home recklessly, wondering why today the routine had not worked.

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photography by @rustyvaughanyoung follow him on instagram

The head is a complicated place.

Maybe, I thought, to expect to scale the mountain of tumultuous ideas the mind creates with one method, even two or three – is madness.

The thought occurred to me that there is never one way, one solution, one answer to any problem. That a life filled with yoga, tai chi, tap dance, or tarot; boxing, boating, hockey, or horse riding; no amount of praying, painting, volunteering, nor activism can really solve a thing. They are tricks, methods like a magician’s handbook. Their work is an illusion.

The real work it seems, begins and ends in the mind, the heart, the human.

 

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Fitting. I drew the High Priestess and the Queen of Pentacles. Going to do a real simple summation here. The Queen, the one who has it all, the solid earth sign (represented by the pentacle) – sure and content, yet paired with the High Priestess – it’s like she’s wondering why the hell she feels like the usual just isn’t working as usual, why things seem so unsure at the moment. It’s like she’s consulting the High Priestess, like going to confessional, like provoking the deepest parts of herself. It’s like she’s sitting in her castle with all her wealth and being like, yeah but, I’m unhappy. Maybe something needs to budge, something needs to change, but what? Is it me? Is it this castle? Is it my heart? Is there something I’m not admitting to myself? Is there something I’m holding to so tightly that’s keeping me from seeing the truth, or from becoming my true self?

Maybe that’s the conversation we’re all having right now.

But don’t stop, let the frustration be fuel. Mine provoked me to do this post, and I feel great about it. Hadn’t done one in quite some time.

I’m not killing the idea of routines. Routines do help the mind cope, the gears turn, the foundation settle, and the body rest. They do, they most certainly do. But don’t be afraid to change those routines because if they’re no longer working, than the work there is done.

Do a routine maintenance check of your current routines. Change perspectives, alter angles and outlooks. Keep pushing. Fill your bag with tricks.

Choice is what guides us to becoming the best or worst versions of ourselves. We always have the power to choose.

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I don’t have any answers, not at the moment. But I do have thoughts and I hope you appreciated me sharing them.

 

Musical selection is a from a producer I’ve been obsessed with lately – Mark Barrott and his album Sketches From An Island. Love the whole album, but “Go Berri Be Happy” is currently playing while I’m closing this out so – there you have it.

Be well, love often, and enjoy!

The Cup, The Key: The Quiet Act of Knowing

Been a minute since I asked these cards about writing. What I asked is if I posses the skills of a writer, not so much because I believe I don’t, but  I figured if I got some disheartening cards back I may have to re-think what I want this chapter in my life to look like.

What I got was an affirmation of the time – exactly what tarot is, mind you – a window into the tools one has in front of them, the option of energies either to use, or not. For this I turned to my very first tarot deck , The Da Vinci Tarot. Seemed fitting that while revisiting old doubts I summon an old deck, the deck that was with me 2 years ago when on the road writing From The Other Seat, the deck that birthed the idea of incorporating tarot into my blog as a way to lighten the pressure, and to offer fodder as I continued to explore the act of writing.

I still love the dark romanticism these cards evoke. Even on the positively inclined cards the images appear wistful – perfect for the writer’s mind. There’s a seriousness to the tone of this deck, it begs that you consider the balance of light and dark when interpreting the message.

So here’s what turned up. They all popped out on their own in this order: Ten of Chalices, Four of Swords, and the Knave of Chalices.

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As a quick intuitive interpretation, Ten’s are a completion and an end to a cycle. Ten of Chalices says both, yes, you have everything you need, all the passion is there, either you’re nurturing your talents or the energy exists for you to do so. But ten’s are also the end of a cycle, not to say it’s all going to go to shit afterwards, but with every ending, there is a new beginning, and there will be a change, a shift. How have you shaped your perception? How will you have used that nurturing love of, say, a mother and her baby? How will your baby grow?

That question follows into the Four of Swords perfectly because this card signifies a sabbatical, a much needed time out. Swords signify thoughts and assessing what those thoughts mean. The Four of Swords is recharging the batteries and making sure that these thoughts are yours and yours alone. I love how the figure in this image looks entirely confident and totally at peace, as if he’s Siddhartha, having come back from a long walk in the valley you see behind him. He knows the answer, or at least has a sense, he’s got the key there in front of him, but he’s taking his time. There’s no hurry, the journey will continue when the time is right.

Timing is key, for the right thing at the wrong time would no longer be the right thing.

And this is why taking a step aside to make time for inner contemplation is so important. One must cultivate the patience to wait for the right time.

The description in the Da Vinci Tarot reference book calls it “peaceful receptivity”. One must have a clear state of mind before making any decisions on the future, and this card signals a time to calm the mind, to find a quiet place all your own, trust in the process, and be open and objective about the path ahead. The figure in the Four of Swords is receptive enough to adapt to anything that might challenge this sense of peace – he’s found equilibrium or is currently seeking it. He’s not taking advice from others, he’s looking within and collecting his own personal strength. The Four of Swords is one of my favorite cards because it tends to come up when a sabbatical is needed. I love sabbaticals, I just took one actually, so I feel like the card that answers my question, whether I posses the skills of a writer, is the third in this spread.

In the third card, the Knave of Chalices is renewed passion. Knaves, or knights, refer to young energies, sometimes young people. It could be that a young person will inspire you, or that a new burst of inspiration is just in its beginning phase, but the fact is – it’s there. It’s naked, and vulnerable, innocent, wanting; emotions pure and simple, raw and abundant, observing the world in a new way, with new words to color what it sees and feels. It’s love, new love, for a person, for a task, for life… for whatever. Life is presenting this now, or it’s coming very soon.

Mid writing this, I got a call about a job, an editing position. I think the initial phone interview went well. They said they’d follow up next week. Promising.

Almost immediately after, my roommate beckoned me to the kitchen where an owl sat on the window ledge. It flew away and was replaced by a pair of cardinals singing to each other, male and female. Owl omens are usual seen as the harbinger of death, could be a metaphysical one, but with death is renewal. Cardinals are a see as a message that you’ve been visited by Spirit. Knaves, cardnials, cups, and keys – the air is ripe with new love, opportunity, and the support is there from a divine quarter, telling one to keep going.

Anyway, I’ve lost focus, gone off the metaphysical deep end, so I’ll leave this here. Musical selection is The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener. His lyrics are wrought with symbols and they really speak to me. Hope this post was interesting in some way. Mostly, if anyone is reading, thank you. Happy to share this space with you.

Be well, love often, and enjoy!

Up and Out

Musical selection this week is Sinead Hartnett and her brand new video “Rather Be With You” because I think the message is right in line with what we’re supposed to be learning this month, what I get into below. Don’t let your ego go on thinking you can do this alone or that you’re better than everyone. Karma will come crashing down to show you, you were better off in that place of humility, that space of love and unity. That’s when the real work gets done.

“I was halfway up on a the wings of a fantasy. Looking out for love, didn’t know what was good for me…”

 

While you’re listening, keep reading! Here is the spread for this week. 

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Whatever that looks like to you, I’ll tell you what it means to me. We’ll call it an “up and out” energy. That’s what I’m feeling. It’s this constant loop of breakdowns and rebuilds. Shit blows up, we come out. Shit breaks down, we stand back up and step on out.

The Tower is a shocking change, usually unpleasant. It’s a karmic debt number, 16. Taken from the numerological stand point,

The 16 is different from other karmic debt numbers, as it is not easily overcome. It involves a continuous cycle of rebirth. After collapse, you will learn the way of humility. You must recognize that power is meant to be shared and you are superior only to your former self. – gaia.com

Wherever 16 shows up in a numerology chart, in the cards, it means “destruction of the old and birth of the new.” It’s life challenging your grand plans, it’s a lost battle, a strike to the ego. But wherever this exists, so does the humility that follows. It is the key to later success, bringing us closer to union, spiritual or otherwise.

Being that we’re heading into a Mercury retrograde this is just what it is- that shit we’re supposed to fix and if we haven’t learned how or learned what it’s stemming from it’s just going to keep throwing us in those same cycles and we’ll have to keep learning those same painful lessons. So stop it. Stop the cycle. Get to the root of why the problem keeps occurring. It’s in you, not outside of you. No one can change you but you. It’s no one else’s fault if things aren’t working. Know this and let the shock of that revelation propel you forward, a new and better you. Do this and you will have achieved a sort of victory, as represented by the Six of Wands. 

The Six of Wands is the lower echo of The Chariot and The Tower. Both of these cards signal change, The Chariot being a card of dominating victory and The Tower being a card illustrating the intrusion of unexpected chaos. When the Six of Wands appears with one of these cards, a life-changing accomplishment occurs. This is the difference between being interviewed about an event for the evening news and others being interviewed about you for the evening news. –keen.com

That place of recognition in the six is then followed by The Chariot. Represented by the sign of Cancer (which happens to be where the moon is right now) The Chariot is the spiritual transformation of man, the strength of will. It promotes immediate action, change, problems overcome, learning lessons from previous mistakes, a rushing forward in balance, success assured.

So yeah, that’s the spread I drew when I asked what I should focus on for this blog post. Big energies going on here and big energies have been surrounding all of us. I know it. I know you’ve felt these cards in your own life.

I’d be ignorant to say I knew what was on the other end of this change, where it’s all heading, but what I do know is that division has been a quite theme over the past 5 months- these powerful coming togethers followed by earth-shattering divisions; division in our hearts in regards to so many issues. It’s been perpetual and it needs to stop. If I’m so bold as to think I’ve come into some clarity about this, I’d say this is what I’ve learned:

9b464d5ce729086252cb7a5b0ee1c782This splitting with old cycles is not a full out abandonment, not this time. I believe what we have in your lives right now is worth working with. The things that are there are worth keeping. It’s about committing. That’s been the challenge. Committing. Not tricking ourselves into thinking there’s something better or that shit’s gonna get better if we keep abandoning what’s been super hard and shitty, throwing away all that progress and starting over. Starting over is cool, but it’s duration and endurance that builds lasting character, strong bonds- things that build security.

What we do need is to split with these ideas that shit isn’t working because of this, that, them, they, him, her – NO. Stop looking outside and pointing fingers. It’s not working because something isn’t working in you, your perspective, your actions. Stop doing the same shit and wondering why you get the same results. Stop that. Stop the unhealthy cycles, in any area of your life. That’s the challenge. This is a time for healing, repairing what’s broke- repairing you, reassessing what isn’t working and moving on from there. Through that we can heal the whole collective. You’ll enter it a stronger person, knowing what you want, knowing what’s good for you, what you will and won’t tolerate. Recognize that the strongest version of you is the one that works for the good of the whole, with love, and with others working in the same direction- a shared vision, achieved because you’ve found your independence. You’ve found, you – all that you can offer, all that you can do, beautiful you.

I’m talking to myself here as much as you, you and you. This is just what I’ve learned, like I said. Maintaining the love in your own heart, despite the destructive changes, that’s the key. That’s what I’ve been learning. It’s not easy. It’s something I have to work at – loving me, loving them, trusting love, love, love, love. But you know what? I do recognize that good things ONLY happen when I’m in this space of love and when other people are in it with me and when we’re working together. That’s the only time. So I want to stay there, no matter what. Pain ain’t got nothing on me. Hardships? We’ll call them character builders, thank them, and move on. Stay in love. Stay here with me. Love often and you’ll be well. Enjoy!

NaNo Update/ Life Update

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I’m going to try and make this brief because I know I’m not the only one feeling a little unhinged today and I really just want to go outside and do something physical to make me feel more grounded.

These energies that popped up today, The Star card (which I spoke on in a previous post) and the King of Swords are helping me describe the feeling in the air, but it’s still hard, it’s like, the highly metaphysical and the highly logical are walking side by side, afraid to look at each other, afraid to understand each other. THEE dream, your ultimate dream is in sight, but it’s like, you’re still in this position where you KNOW you have to be highly logical about your next steps- a bit cold and calculating, a bit mean and offish but it’s because you’re just trying to HOLD IT ALL TOGETHER MAN.

Like, that’s YOUR DREAM right there, The Star, you manifested it, this is YOUR WISH, but you’re a little miffed at it, like it showed up early to the party. But the Star is not early, it’s RIGHT ON TIME, and that notion makes you feel excited and scared and you don’t WANT to feel excited and scared right now, dammit, there’s work to do.

Know that it’s the nature of the unknown which makes us feel vulnerable and that it’s totally OK to feel vulnerable. It’s a necessary step.  It means you’re ready for the change.

I mean, The Star is over there just free and naked and like, super calm about it and you’re all like, I can’t get there with you yet and you’re making me nervous with your beautiful magical presence.

You know this is a delicate period, that to complete the process, to fulfill the wish, one needs to be careful, make smart moves, stay on task and that there’s still so much work to do if that dream is to become a reality. IT’S RIGHT THERE, but you’re trying real hard to be that King of Swords, to stay on track, stay focused, to not humor the fanciful feelings just yet.

To bring this back to the writing process, I seriously almost bailed on the NaNo project this week. There were two or three days there that I didn’t write anything at all and I thought I’d have to write a post about my failure, which would have been fine. Failure is fine. But then I had a few awesome conversations with some friends and it got me thinking- what do I REALLY want, what was the dream? And, is that dream going to happen if I don’t push myself to the limit? No. It won’t.

I wanted to go back to working on From the Other Seat. I’m itching to keep chipping away at that edit, but I also know I need a new project, a strong project with a strong foundation to be there waiting for me when I hit a wall with the memoir, and the wall WILL happen so I want to be prepared. Also, I have grand visions of taking a trip to Poland this spring and to work on this new book while I’m there and this is totally contingent on the fact that I have something really tangible started. I want to just be filling in plot holes when I get there and editing and… god, I’m rambling.

My biggest problem with the new project is while I made a loose outline and a character sketch, getting from point A to Z has been a real challenge. I’m a very literal person and taking on a fiction and setting it in a place I’ve never been…. well, I’m struggling with it. So I’m putting aside all environmental descriptions right now and just focusing on the emotional meat of the story because… emotions are my thing. I know how to write about those.

Anyway, this is getting long. On top of all this book writing, I’m also trying to carve a path for myself in my freelance writing in music and what not… and so… it’s been a trying time to fit all this in and know which projects to focus on more at any giving time; where to put the brunt of my energies. So… yeah, I got to be this King of Swords even though my dream, The Star, it’s right where I want it. There’s still so much… so so much to do.

Stay focused everyone. I’m going to go cut the grass. It’s beautiful out.

Musical selection this week is by Jay Daniel a young Detroiter who embodies these logical-dreamy energies. He’s releasing his debut album at the end of the month. The album is called Broken Knowz and it drops via Technicolour Recordings. Be well, love often, and enjoy!!

 

 

 

On Writing: Raising the Dead

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Last night I pulled the Death card. I’ve been pulling this card a lot these past few weeks, regardless of the question. What this tells me is that there is something divinely connected to this particular time that signifies both a death and a rebirth.

Personally, I love when I draw Death. I can’t help but always focus on the positive aspects of this card. To me, Death is the ultimate creation card. It tells me that there’s something in the womb bubbling with life that couldn’t have been without the death of something else.

While I’m not using a traditional tarot card this week, I think this artwork depicts Death’s meaning really well.

A definite end and a definite beginning, a change that one feels, that can’t be avoided, is here. Embrace it; death to an aspect of you, a phase, a relationship, a project, a period of stagnation has just happened- roll with it. Recognize that what’s  on the other side is the birth of some other seed you’d planted, maybe some intention you set months or years ago that’s coming to fruition, exposing its leafy tips, its plump petals.

In regards to writing, NaNoWriMo started yesterday and for those of us contributing, we’re all in the Death/Rebirth mode, the start of a new phase. Death is here to usher in the new, not to be a guide but rather, a time marker. Note: this is when the death occurred, this is when you made a change, this is when you started that thing that changed the way your future unfolded. This is when you felt death was lurking, this is when you knew life went on. This is your opportunity to start over.

Been listening to “Dust Clears” by Clean Bandit a lot lately. Always have loved the track, but it’s ringing in strong this month for it speaks to death and rebirth. As the lyrics say,

“As the dust clears and it all starts to disappear, it may get harder because you just restarted. And wherever you are, land on another star. It may get harder because you just restarted….”

Death isn’t about to make this transition easy, it’s just cleaning up the shit you knew needed to go anyway. It’s doing you a favor. Life is all about balance. Death is exciting. Death is life, life is death. Change your perspective and you change your future.

Good luck if you’re venturing into NaNoWrimo and as always, be well, love often and enjoy!

Onward! to NaNoWriMo 2016

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Most writers already know, NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. I’ve had a few conversations about this with a friends already. General consensus: we’re all going to attempt it this year, regardless of that other pressing project in the works.

Last year, I completed From the Other Seat for Nano. It was challenging and rewarding and I’m thankful to have done it. This year, I’m still working on From the Other Seat. While I did send it off to an editor I found over at Reedsy and while I’ve been sharing plenty of sample chapters over at Scriggler, with this book in particular, I think the content was, and possibly still is, too close to me to be editing at this juncture. Even though I’ve been editing for a year (jeeze, that sounds bad), in truth I should have followed the advice of Stephen King and stuck it in a drawer for 6 months to 2 years. I didn’t because I didn’t have another project to focus on (which is healthy practice and prevents oneself from getting exhausted by the first book.)

I’m opting to set aside From the Other Seat to participate in Nano this year and I think this will be precisely what the doctor ordered.

Which brings me to this spread. I asked the tarot where I’m at in my writing process. I did a three card spread because I drew The Eight of Swords first. This is where I’m at in the process, for sure, but that’s certainly no solution, so I drew the two others, The Two of Pentacles and The Page of Swords, as clarifiers- and how clear that message became!

It’s helpful to know that swords represent any process of the mind, thoughts and feelings that we internalize, but they also represent communication- writing in particular. They’re usually somewhat negative cards just because, you know, knives are sharp and dangerous. Cutting words, devious and harmful thoughts, cold maneuvers, logical love- these are things swords can represent. (They have good qualities too, depending on the card; bravery or decisiveness, for instance.)

In this case (and I’m strictly consulting my own intuition here) I see The Eight of Swords as me, surrounded by my pages. I’m bound up and I got that blindfold on because, like I said, at this point those pages are too close to me, I can’t see my way through them, I can’t editing my way out of them blind. They’re making me feel stormy and trapped which isn’t helpful to me or the book. So a choice emerges, The Two of Pentacles. I’ve an opportunity to balance the situation, and I’ve got to. Notice the grey sky has turned blue, and that blue is then mirrored in the the tunic of the The Page of Swords who comes rushing in with an exciting new idea, a bold and decisive direction – a youthful one – but fresh, nonetheless.

So there you have it. I will most definitely stick From the Other Seat in a theoretical drawer and rush forward with a new book for National November Writing Month!

What will I be writing about this year? I want to give myself a little more freedom, magic up my environments. I think it will be a love story, it could turn out to be a tragedy, but it will most likely be realistic with an element of magic to blur the lines a bit. Nothing original in that simple description, no. I can think of handful of writers that regularly do this type of writing, but it is my perspective and my writing style that needs to set me apart. I’m thinking of mermaids, longing, new lands, love and loss. I’m thinking, dry indie films and exotic records. I’m thinking of an interview I recently read in Playboy Magazine between James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhall and this bit that I found highly intriguing (quote below):

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Gyllenhaal: An actress said to me two days ago, “I’ve been getting so scared when it comes time for my close-up. I’m paralyzed with fear.” From my objective position, I was like, “You’re playing someone who is acting like they’re comfortable with the wildest sexual encounters. It is so much more interesting if that person sometimes is paralyzed with fear.” I don’t believe in the fantasy person who is totally comfortable with that kind of stuff. Maybe there are a couple of people like that in the world, but I’m not really interested in them. I’m much more interested in the person who acts like they’re comfortable with all those things and then sometimes is paralyzed with fear.

And I’ll leave you with MaJLo “Another Day” mostly because I love this song like it was my own heart beating, but also because he offers another glimpse into the setting of my upcoming NaNoWriMo adventure. MaJLo is based near Gdansk, Poland. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

On writing: Using sadness to your benefit

http://www.fountaintarot.com/

I’ve been away in mind, waiting for the shift in the season, the shift in the cosmos to give me back a little energy; revive me or destroy me, but floating here feels like swords to the soul.

Truth be told, I avoided a post last week thinking I might be in a better state of mind this week, a better place with my book, a better mood for sharing. Whether or not I am isn’t an excuse to remain at a stalemate. If the outward aspects of my life aren’t planning on moving forward anytime soon at least I can attempt to push my mind past this place of numbness.

Over the weekend, I was able to dedicate one whole day to the writing/editing process. In that day, I worked on one chapter. One chapter, and it’s not like I even changed that much. I read it, edited and edited again and again. One word here, cut and paste there. Delete, delete, edit undo. Two new words. Two steps forward, three steps back. That is how it went.

It was a process that rolled on for hours, about 6, until the sun went down and I realized I hadn’t eaten. And while the work on that chapter felt like torture, in the end, it was better than it had been.

It’s with this state of being that I share this card, drawn digitally because I’m not at home by my own deck.

The Three of Swords is a card that tends to strike sadness in the heart of those who receive it. Three knives piercing a heart. It’s a painful present, but with sword energy at least we can rest assured it won’t last. Maybe a painful situation is coming, maybe it’s already here, all the same, there’s lessons to learn in the Three of Swords and as horrible as it may feel, as frustrated and as stuck, it’s still energy that can be utilized.

Writing in this state of mind rather than using it as an excuse not to write can be a moving experience.

The Three of Swords is where I’m at in my heart, it’s where I’m at in my life, it’s where I’m at in my memoir. Heartbreaking moments abound, but I’m using this instead of succumbing to it. And so far, it’s working out well. Hasn’t been fun, but it’s working out.

The image I used is from a deck called The Fountain Tarot. What I love about it is that it’s one of the more hopeful renditions of the Three of Swords that I’ve seen. Notice the rainbow reflected in the heart? There’s a silver lining to everything, a positive way to flip even the darkest emotions. A reminder that hope is right around the corner. Everything is transitory. These painful emotions need to happen just like the feel-good ones. That’s just life.

So, there you have it- a short blog, but it’s about all the heart space I can spare right now.

This may seem like random advice, but I feel compelled to share it: don’t be afraid to cut away what is no longer serving you, whether you want to apply that to your book or your personal life, start making some clean cuts. In light of the Three of Swords, cut away three things that are confusing your plot. Cut away three paragraphs, three sub-characters, three words. And if you feel you are cutting too much, do not fear. In life we need to completely separate from the old to make way for the new. Cut away all those things that have been holding you back. Burn them, trash them, block them and never look back.

That said, once you do and you’re feeling a little like you miss it, them, those– capture that feeling and fucking use it. 

Cry over your words, pour your soul out on that paper, over those keys; get deep, allow your heart to break fully and completely. At the end of that, there you will find the rainbow.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

 

 

 

Put your best long-term plan, forward

Queen of Pentacles/Queen of Wands

Queen of Pentacles/Queen of Wands

This week The Queen of Pentacles (coins, that is) and the Queen of Wands pop out to say, “Stop dreaming. It’s time for action; slow and methodical, tactical, long term, but with gusto!” Practicality with style and flair, that’s what this queen combination is. Grounded AND on fire, that’s what I am… er.. they are… er… their message, here to remind- these are the energies we should be harnessing right now.

They are a perfect representation of my swift decision to buy an Ergonomic Split Keyboard. I mean, it wasn’t a big ticket item, but the point is, I didn’t even have to think about the cost- it was of no significance compared to the wear and tear on my hands- my hands which are currently my only vehicle to the outside world; my hands campaigning my purpose, my livelihood.

Ok, so here we go. Right. My mess of a station. OMG. So many things my fingers have to push.

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000

Notice the size difference between the two keyboards? Holy Hell. That’s what I said when I took it out of the box. This thing needs a duffel bag to carry it. It’s far too big for a backpack.

Wishing I spent a little more time researching and maybe any time at all with checking measurements, but whatever. Here it is. I’m typing on it now. It’s weird and I keep making massive amounts of typos, but what you don’t see is how it raises in the back and has an ever-so-soft pad to support my wrists. THAT feature is currently saving my life, i.e. my hands.

Not sure if I’ll keep this beast. If any of you readers have a suggestion for a better keyboard, please leave it in the comments. I was hoping for something I could travel with. Something that was natural to type on. This thing feels like learning all over again. It’s not very intuitive and I just… I’m not sold.

Anyway, this post is getting away from me.

Harness the power of these two queens this coming week, you’ll need them. These two are my favorite queens and together they are quite potent. I identify with these two most, or maybe I idolize them- whatever, No matter. They are Her; confident in thy economic standing. And Her; sure of thy place in the world.

Risks no longer apply to these queens. The are not struggling. They are simply saying, “You have the means- no question. No worry. Step out into the world and own it.”

On a very serious note, if you’ve been lost in illusion, connections coming and going; you feel more tired, something is aching, you feel lost and confused- that’s just your body adjusting to the changing times. We’re all going to come out of this OK.

October will feel more clear. We will all know where we’re going and who we’re taking with us.

Go get a massage. Pamper yourself. Don’t worry about the cost. It’s of no consequence. You need this.

For the musical selection this week, a track that took off like a rocket and gained a whole lot of traction on the way. Join your fellow recluse and dance like no one’s watching to Oliver Nelson ft. Kaleem Taylor – Ain’t A Thing.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

Scriggler: the “Soundcloud” of writing platforms

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Robin Wood Tarot: Ace of Cups

Thy cup runneth over!

In the context of this blog, when I pull a card I’m thinking about some aspect of the writing process. What I’ve been stuck on lately is time. Seems like I haven’t enough of it, like I’m scrambling, yet I’m paired with this feeling of floating in some stagnant abyss, bored and barely moving.

Ace of cups is a card of fulfillment, conception, socializing, love, having all your emotional needs met. This card is the harbinger of joy. This card says, good times are coming. It says, things are getting done, even when we don’t feel like they are; all those efforts are adding up, filling your cup, and they’ll pay off.

That’s why I’ve been sharing sample chapters lately. When I’m feeling stuck, it’s helpful to change gears and ready something for public viewing, to put my foot down on over-editing and say, “Hey, this is done enough for feedback. Submit, walk away and move on.”

Things don’t have to be so official, they just need to be alive, living, as in- you’ve got to share it, get it out of your mind, off your own computer, out of those disorganized chapter files and let it breath in fresh air, under fresh eyes that are not your own. The hope is, by watching how people respond to this or that chapter, you’ll know better what to keep, what to expand on, what to throw away.

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Sharing could change the direction of your story, give you new ideas where to take your characters, and inevitably, your readers.

Sharing takes bravery. It means that you’re opening yourself up to a world of strangers; a wealth of others’ thoughts and emotions. And what a wonderful world-wide-web that sharing has been made so easy, that there are various platforms out there to aid us.

For me, that platform is Scriggler.

If you aren’t privy to the site yet and you’re a writer who’s in love with words and simplicity; maybe you want to share but your blog doesn’t get much traction and all those other sites just confuse the process, distract you further- Scriggler may be for you.

Having tried to integrate myself with Medium in the past, I knew what I did and didn’t want in a writing platform. What I didn’t want, was super shiny and official. I didn’t want it to look like a news feed. I didn’t want to be drawn into others’ stories (even though that’s an important part of it) but right now I’m just thinking of the writing process, my process, and I need to strip away all the distractions. I downloaded Scrivener (helpful software for organizing a manuscript) about the same time I signed up at Scriggler for much the same reason- I wanted something that aided the writer, spoke to the writer, fed the writer, encouraged the writer. Writing is about writing, aesthetics be damned; functionality, yes, but save me the distracting package.

So what is Scriggler?

Scriggler is a cultural, political and intellectual melting pot – a place for exchanging not only stories and poetry, but also ideas, perspectives.

It came about nearly 3 years ago today as an experiment, a concept fueled by founder Dmitry Selemir’s own need for a writing platform that simply didn’t exist yet. His inspiration? Soundcloud.

This was surprising information for me, a musician and a music blogger. Soundcloud is a platform I use daily and currently, can’t think what I would do without it. Their model has changed the way digital music is shared; redefined the industry for a whole crop of aspiring artists, listeners, bloggers, and the like. Knowing this now, I’m not surprised why I was so drawn to Scriggler’s platform.

Translate the Soundcloud model into something suitable for writers sharing their work, and that might be a way to view Scriggler.

Scriggler‘s interface charmed me immediately- a white page with random scribbles on it. Posts are simple squares that arrange themselves in the center of the home feed. When others post a piece of literature (story, opinion, poem, essay, whatever) only the pertinent details are visible: the title, the author, the tags, the views. There are no images to pull you in, initially. You won’t even find the traditional “following for following” set up. Scriggler is organized to “foster interactions around the content,” says Dmitry, who went an atypical route with Scriggler’s launch; bypassed media coverage, publicity, and simply, shared. And while they’ve gone through many changes in the past two years, it was this initial act in vulnerability that has gotten them where they are.

 

dmitry

Scriggler founder, Dmitry Selemir

“In part this was perhaps due to lack of experience,” admits Dmitry, “in part – we wanted to get something out there, test it with the real users and hone in on the formula that would really work.”

And things are still changing. Dmitry has modest expectations about what the platform is and where it may go, but he also has a grand dream, that it solidifies itself as a launching pad for writers finding their way in the digital world; that it remains a place writers stay for years, life even. In this way, Scriggler hopes to build a solid community, shape the future of a global collective of writers.

What’s the big difference between Scriggler and everyone else?

It’s all run by the audience. There’s no editorial staff making any attempts to flavour what gets promoted. “Everything is less driven by the topic or genre or locality and more by what material you interacted with positively,” says Dmitry.

And it has to be mentioned that Scriggler operates on a fraction of a fraction of the small change left after Medium’s budget. “It makes it more difficult to build new things,” Dmitry says, “but at the same time we are accountable to our members alone and not to our investors (since we don’t have any).”

They have just added a donate button, letting those who use and appreciate Scriggler be the ones who make it a better place to be.

For readers heading to Scriggler to discover new writings, the experience is a little like records hunting. It takes work, but finding that gem is totally worth it.

But here’s the real clincher that sets Scriggler apart:

For writers, they do something that no other platform ever has – they promote every work you upload, personally, on twitter – sometimes twice.

For an introvert like me, self promotion has always been my biggest challenge. For my blog that maybe reaches a handful of people, posting my work does little for number of views. So going from 4 views to over 300 is HUGE. Not just huge for gaining an audience, but MASSIVE for confidence levels- those necessary doses of encouragement every writer thrives on.

But it can’t be all on Scriggler. Think of them like that Ace of Cups, a helping hand, filling you with the tools to progress even further on your path to, what Dmitry likes to call, “authorpreneur”.

To maximize your experience on Scriggler?

Content strategy.

“Think through your content strategy and make sure that while your posts are not pure promotion – it’s still easy for people to follow up, go to your website or blog, see your other publications and books, sign up to your newsletter etc.”

The other big thing is engaging, which can be a struggle for many of us already pressed for time, but one cannot receive without giving. Engaging leads us to knew avenues, new connections.

A key piece of advice is in comments, meaning, your comments on others’ work. Comments are highly publicized on Scriggler. “Each comment is a projection of your overall image,” stresses Dmitry, “make sure the comment is interesting. Something trivial is likely going to play against you.”

And if you wish, Scriggler also allows you to create clubs or join clubs started by other users. This can help you find your audience.

As far as imagery, like I said earlier, there’s none to distract you on the home feed, but within your own submission one can get creative, embedding videos, widgets (for example Soundcloud tracks) and images, which can be helpful in promotion via social media.

For myself, Scriggler has been a game changer. I have found my audience widening with every post, I have found myself through these interactions becoming more brave, more engaging, upping my own content of which I spread fairly evenly along my own channels. Most importantly, Scriggler has shown me what is possible. With their help, I’ve been able to up my own standards of where I can take my writing career.

Sometimes all we need is a little push – in this case, a digital one, from Scriggler.

So in light of this very full Ace of Cups, I raise it to Scriggler and dedicate this post as a token of my appreciation.

But don’t just take my word for it. Head there and see for yourself what Scriggler can do for you. Get on board, you might find you can’t do without it.

Oh, and while you’re there why not Scriggle me? :)

This weeks’ musical selection to pair with all this abundance of joy- an artist called, JOY.

Be well, love often and en-JOY!

 

 

Moving on

 

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Robin Wood Tarot: Eight of Cups

This week has been trouble. Progress, none. Seems a stark shift from the energy brought in by the Ace of Pentacles last Wednesday, but a new direction is not without the hard and unpleasant stages. Progress does not come without minor regressions.

Personally, I’ve been wanting to move on from where I’m at; physically, emotionally. Both feel very stagnant, tired, oppressing. Not to be making excuses as to why I’m not working as well as I should or being as productive as I should, but physical and emotional environments play a huge role.

Past hurts and present turmoil are raking at my thoughts, submerging my heart to the point where I cannot feel or function in the present. Living arrangements that aren’t entirely in my control are beating me down. Truly, I feel stuck, mired, yet capable. I very much know I need to move on from a few things so that I may become the best I can be- more creative, more productive, more balanced, more in control of my emotions. More of myself.

When the going gets rough, one simply has to keep moving. And here is the eight of cups to remind to do just that.

The eight of cups can be seen as a dark card. Interesting that the person in this card is depicted leaving under the veil of night, by light of the moon. Whatever situation you may be leaving might be one where others can be feeling a similar hurt. One must leave with stern resolve. Quite possibly, leaving might be safer wrapped under veils, cloaks, at night, in secret, alone. This card supports my need to move on, to abandon, to start over, maybe with a new job, a new city, a new home, a new approach. It’s no coincidence that I’ve been feverishly pursuing all of these things, trying to create a new opportunity.

Look at the way the figure in this drawing is situated where it looks like another cup should be. Leads me to believe that maybe they’re simply leaving on a journey to find that ninth cup. Once we breach into the nine of cups, after all, there are pleasantry’s and enjoyment; a jovial feeling of fulfillment.

In this particular card from The Robin Wood Tarot it depicts a flock of geese flying in a typical V fashion past the moon, heading in the same direction as the cloaked figure. Makes me feel like this “moving on” is a natural reaction to a seasonal or cosmic shift. Because of the geese, I also feel like this card might be telling me to move before winter hits. I feel that to an extreme.

The eight of cups says, karmically, there’s nothing more to gain by staying. There’s a method that’s no longer serving base needs, an emotional state of being that has exhausted the mind and body. I do feel it, I feel exhausted and my work has suffered because of it.

The good news is, the eight of cups is not all doom and gloom. Unlike many cards in the deck, here at least the image depicts movement. Where there is movement there is change.

Poor conditions are temporary. The uncertainty we feel moving away from something or someone familiar is temporary.

If you notice the staff in the figure’s hand you’ll see it’s reminiscent of the suit of wands, as if bravery in a new creative direction is required to make this moving away, this change, successful. The figure is heading away from uncertainty, away from the unstable energies of the moon, water, the emotions; dreams that have no bearing on real life- off to find something consistently true. Truth, like mountains are hard and jagged. That said, what lies ahead of this moving on won’t be an easy road to navigate, but hardship is necessary when lessons need to be learned.

Only in movement can we change a situation for the better. Only with effort can we land on solid ground.

Seen in another way, maybe I need to be less emotional about my writing process, this memoir in general. Maybe when I open up Scrivener with all my new daily fears of inadequacy, maybe I need to be more objective. The entire theme of From the Other Seat is about movement, moving away from a situation; moving in a vehicle, moving over land, travel; both emotional and physical. It’s about ending somewhere true, a position that feels honest and real. In a sense, From the Other Seat is about having too much of a good thing and how in shedding, stripping away, finding that one true thing is more fulfilling than all those other things that we thought we needed.

The eight of cups is about that journey to find the “one true thing”.

Leaving a stagnant situation or starting a day of writing feels to me a similar challenge. The question being, how on earth to begin? Literally, all we’ve got to do is put one leg in front of the other, one word after another. With that small exercise alone, look here, suddenly I have a new blog post. In no time, and with effort, I will have a new home as well, a new job.

I know this will resonate with a lot of you. I hope that you find the strength to leave behind situations of your own that are no longer serving you. Karma has closed that chapter. There’s nothing more for you there.

Here’s to moving on and here’s the mix I was listening to while writing this post. It’s a long, chill, and introspective one to keep you company along your own journey.

Be well, love often and enjoy!

The beginning is the end is the beginning

Ace of Pentacles

This is a blog about my process, my writing, my journey. A journey that’s been wrapped up in music since that long ago day I befriended the poetry of words; words that are so musical and magical to me that I can’t do without them.

My words, my music, and the very fiber of my being have always been guided by a fascination with the stars, the planets, and metaphysical whispers.

In an effort to think of what I could offer a daily blog, how I could share my process, what exactly my process is, I thought of divination. For years, I’ve sought wisdom through astrology, consulted the tarot, and have had many a conversation with the ICHING. These are just things I do. Have I gotten skilled enough to share what I’ve learned? Not exactly, though I have given a few tarot readings to close friends and family and they seemed satisfied. Mainly, I do it for me, a restless spirit always searching, always listening, looking and asking for guidance. I tell my very skeptical family that Spirit is math, just like anything else. It can be measured and weighed in the medium in which it’s revealed. Spirit is an intricate equation that we all tap into, add to, subtract from, transmit and absorb.

Astrology might be the only map one needs to make educated decisions, but other forms of divination like Tarot and ICHING speak to a more fine-tuned need for guidance. Questions like – Where should I go with the next chapter? What is my major conflict? How should the story end? For many of these questions, divination is my guide. It’s something I do to feel grounded; to keep on track. Everyone has their method. I take bike rides, too. Exercise is a form of divination. Exercise could be seen as a practice in becoming one with the divine; to perfect the body, to become powerful,  thereby becoming god-like. But more than the physicality of it, exercise conjures hidden thoughts and ideas. Any form of exercise loosens something in the mind; opens channels more equipt to translate the ethereal.

My writing process is weighted in deep introspection and careful wordplay imbued with the immensity of my feeling. What I put out into the world means a great deal to me and “daily” anything seems… an after thought, frivolous, exhausting. It is exhausting. In the past, I’ve tried this before and exhausted myself with myself. Truth be told, I still have a book to write. Why am I wasting my time and energy on a blog? Modern day publishing is the real answer; the need to have an online presence. But there is something about pushing oneself to share, daily. There is value. Typing this first post does, in a small way, makes the journey more real, less inside my head. I have shared it, therefore, it is fact.

How fitting then, for me to draw this first card for this first post, the Ace of Pentacles.

First a word about Aces in a reading: “The Ace is the dominant type of card and pulsates its energy over the whole reading. While most cards tell your story of when their impact was felt, is being felt or will be felt in the future, any Ace describes the whole story and is present in each chapter.” keen.com

While the Ace of Pentacles has a variety of dynamics, pertaining to this post one the resonates with me the most is that it is a card of results. Pentacles represent the earth, money matters, things that ground you, can stagnate or stabilize. It is a powerful card that asks to mediate on your roots, “firmly plant yourself back on your path in order to see your result realized as you desire… what you are ultimately attaining.” auntyflo.com

It is a card that begs you to focus on the foundation, keep a schedule, generate results. This can carry over to health, business, love. In this case, I think of this blog, this book I’m writing. There is a definite need for a schedule, a focused effort to stay on task. If I can do that, I will finish. The Ace of Pentacles assures that- that there is the energy there to finish. The Ace of Pentacles is a new beginning or at least a refreshed approach. It reminds me that this is a productive period, saving for the future, good fortune. It represents stamina, dedication, and hard work. While all these things come hard for me, the Ace of Pentacles is here to tell me it’s not impossible, it just takes a bit of effort.

With that, here is a bit of music I’ve been listening to while writing. Chroma Bay, a trio from London. What I like about them is that this is their first released track and fits in great with the energy of the Ace of Pentacles. A great reminder that whatever we dream, it certainly may seem impossible, but with a little love, a little hope, a lot of effort and a little magic, amazing things can come of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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